Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | October 6, 2009

Macchiavelli or Tai Chi?

In the world, we are often tempted to respond to conflict and negative behavior with a scorched earth policy and engage in nefarious, machiavellian tactics to destroy our enemies, especially if these tactics are being used against us. I am often tempted to copy the godfather movies and wipe everybody out during a baptism! But the foundation for this action is the belief that the opposition is not worth saving, that the enemy is not reformable, that the enemy is an enemy. It’s easy to start armageddon in any given situation. Not many of us can survive it. Even the godfather got what goes around.

If one is disciplined in the practice of tai chi and meditation and contemplation, is regularly placing oneself in the presence of holiness, it becomes much more difficult to choose the machiavellian option. Even if the other person is beyond reform, is a complete and total jerk, we must withdraw into ourselves and pull out some taoist tai chi wisdom, for our own sake, if not for the sake of the “enemy.”

In any conflict, authenticity is important. And a neutral adherence to the truth. Clear, defined goal and purpose, and I suppose, drawn lines. Draw the line as to what is acceptable or not, and lay out what the natural consequences are of crossing those lines(my friend Jim’s concept, not mine).

In most cases, if we remain gentle, soft, truthful, not acting out of the ego, out of hate, greed or self interest, and the other person persists, they will end up destroying themselves instead of you.

So, I will beg the question, tactically, both in a martial art physical confrontation, or in a social or work situation, does the time ever come to throw the killing punch, to strike, to knock the other person out? Yes. When you are in imminent danger yourself, or someone you are protecting. When the other person’s actions are so egregious…defining or recognizing this takes wisdom…then it’s time for a smackdown…but, as I’ve said, the best smackdown results from the other person’s own actions.


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